UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo hopes to join the elite ranks of double-champions as he takes on the #1 ranked bantamweight in the UFC in Marlon Moraes for the vacant UFC bantamweight championship at the main event of UFC 238 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on June 8, 2019.
Inspired by his knockout win over T.J. Dillashaw last January, Henry Cejudo now believes that he can become a two-division champion in the UFC. Dillashaw moved down in weight to challenge Cejudo at UFC Fight Night 143 but got knocked out. After the win, Cejudo asked to fight Dillashaw for the title at the latter’s weight class but before that fight could be made, Dillashaw was popped for PED-use and was forced to relinquish his belt. The UFC then offered Cejudo to fight #1 contender Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt.
Olympic Wrestling Champion
Cejudo is the former Olympic wrestler who captured Olympic gold in 2008. After his retirement from freestyle wrestling in 2012, he began training to fight in MMA and began his professional career at the Arizona-based World Fighting Federation. Cejudo won his first six bouts and became the #1 bantamweight prospect before signing with the UFC.
After winning his first three assignments, Cejudo earned a title shot by defeating Jussier Formiga. He suffered his first career defeat when longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson knocked him out during his first UFC title bout. Cejudo suffered back to back losses as Joseph Benavidez outpointed him in the TUF 24 Finale. He worked his way back to a title shot with back to back wins over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis. At UFC 227, he ended Mighty Mouse’s reign as the UFC flyweight king.
The 32-year old Los Angeles native has a record of 14-2 with six knockouts. Cejudo’s UFC record is 8-2 with 2 knockouts. He stands 5-4 tall and has a reach of 64 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. Cejudo lands a total of 3.56 significant strikes per minute and 2.30 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Odds from Betonline as of 5/13/19
Ex-WSOF Bantamweight Champion
Moraes is the former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion. The 31-year old from Nova Friburgo, Brazil won the inaugural WSOF bantamweight title and made five consecutive successful title defenses before he was signed by the UFC. After losing his UFC debut via split decision to Raphael Assuncao, he’s been on a tear with four impressive wins including a submission win over Assuncao to avenge his only defeat in the UFC so far.
Moraes’s four-fight winning streak included wins over John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling. Moraes’ last three bouts have ended in a first-round stoppage and he’s earned Performance of the Night bonuses in each one of them. His string of wins put him on top of the bantamweight rankings and gave him a shot at the title Dillashaw vacated.
Known as Magic, Moraes stands 5-6 and has a reach of 67 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. The Brazilian has a record of 22-5-1 with 10 knockouts and 6 wins by way of submission. Moraes earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the famed Ricardo Almeida.
We’ve seen several UFC champions move up in weight and become double-champions. We saw Conor McGregor do that by knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. We saw Daniel Cormier do that when he stopped Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. We also saw Amanda Nunes move up to lightweight and knock out Cris Cyborg. But the last time we saw a champion try to become champ-champ, we saw Max Holloway getting out-powered by the bigger Dustin Poirier at UFC 236. So which side will Henry Cejudo join?
Conor McGregor and Amanda Nunes are elite strikers with genuine punching power. As for Cormier, he fought Stipe at heavyweight and we know all it takes in that division is one punch. Holloway had knockout power as well, but was unable to carry it to the lightweight division as he couldn’t hurt the bigger Poirier. Henry Cejudo? Sure he knocked out T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 143 but he isn’t known as a power puncher.
We all know Cejudo’s strength is his wrestling, being a former Olympic gold medalist in the sport. I’ve seen his striking improve from day one but it’s not that he can grow punching power overnight or if he can grow it anyway. Sure, he has six knockouts in his resume, but the question here is if that power is enough to knock out bigger opponents. Sure, Cejudo fought at a higher weight class in his previous MMA life but so did Holloway.
The reason why I’m making so much fuss about Cejudo’s power is because Moraes is such a heavy hitter at bantamweight and if Cejudo can’t hurt him on the feet, he is going to be in trouble. But why would Cejudo fight him on the feet when he can take him down to the ground? While Cejudo may be an elite wrestler, Moraes is an elite grappler with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and six submission wins to his credit. Cejudo barely has a submission game with 0.1 submission attempts per 15 minutes.
But then Cejudo has always been a monster with his ground and pound. The problem here is if will he be able to mount a bigger and more powerful opponent? I’m not underestimating Cejudo’s skills. I’m just saying he has more problems than Marlon Moraes has in this fight. The mma betting odds are saying this is going to be a close fight but I don’t see it going the distance.
I think Moraes will try to keep this on the feet where he has the heavier hands. Cejudo will try to look for the knockout the way he did against Dillashaw. But the longer this fight drags, Cejudo will want to take this fight to the ground to eliminate Moraes’ edge in striking. But the constant movement on the mat will only enable Moraes to find an opening. If he doesn’t knock out Henry Cejudo on his feet, Marlon Moraes is going to choke Cejudo out. Prediction: Marlon Moraes, and it won’t go the distance